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Carson City 'shocked to the core' by IHOP shooting

A gunman killed three National Guard members and one civilian before shooting himself. Authorities are still trying to determine a motive.

September 08, 2011|By Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times
  • Four people were killed at this Carson City, Nev., IHOP and seven injured when a gunman opened fire before shooting himself.
Four people were killed at this Carson City, Nev., IHOP and seven injured… (Cathleen Allison, AP )

Reporting from Los Angeles — Authorities were still trying to determine Wednesday why a man opened fire with an assault rifle at an IHOP in Carson City, Nev., killing three uniformed National Guard members and a civilian woman before killing himself.

They attempted to quell early theories that the lone gunman, Eduardo Sencion, 32, of Carson City, entered the restaurant Tuesday morning specifically to gun down the unarmed National Guard members.

The attack appears to be a random barrage of violence, said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.

"This is unquestionably the most devastating attack on our community in Carson City history," Furlong said at a news conference. "Yesterday our town was shocked to the core."

Sencion drove a blue minivan adorned with a "Support our troops" sticker into a strip mall about 9 a.m Tuesday and began shooting at a woman on a motorcycle.

He then stormed into the restaurant through the front door and opened fire on diners, killing a woman. Sencion made his way to the back of the restaurant where five National Guard members were eating breakfast and shot all five. Two male and one female Guard members were killed, Furlong said.

The dead were identified as Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 38, of Carson City, who served in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010; Maj. Heath Kelly, 35, of Reno, who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005; and Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31.

Also killed was Florence Donovan-Gunderson, 67, of South Lake Tahoe. In all, 11 people were shot, Furlong said.

Initially, authorities thought Sencion went to the back of the restaurant immediately.

But investigators now say he began firing soon after he entered, letting off a stream of bullets from an assault rifle similar to an AK-47. The first two victims, Donovan-Gunderson and another woman, were shot between the front door and the back of the restaurant, Furlong said.

After that initial hail of bullets, authorities said, they believe Sencion then walked to the back and shot the Guard members.

Though there is no evidence to suggest that Sencion went into the restaurant specifically to shoot the Guard members, it appears that he did target them once inside, Furlong said.

"Whether coming or going, it was a bloodbath all the way though," he said.

Sencion then left the IHOP, reloaded his gun and began firing at other restaurants and businesses in the strip mall before shooting himself in the head, Furlong said. He was taken to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

It was unclear whether the rifle was an automatic or semiautomatic. Authorities discovered two more guns in the van — a rifle and a pistol — that were not used in the attack. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the make and model of the assault rifle and how Sencion acquired the guns, Furlong said.

Interviews with Sencion's family suggest he was mentally unstable, Furlong said. He had no criminal history, was not a member of the military and had no known connection to the diners at the restaurant. He worked at a family business in nearby South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

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